Fear Of Showing Compassion: Does It Hold You Back?

 

Has anyone else out there fallen victim to the Serial podcast?  Oh my goodness it's addicting.  I think I blew through all 12 episodes much faster than I'd like to admit.  For those of you who haven't yet, I highly recommend it.  And I promise this post will contain no spoilers!

There was a line during the series that really stood out for me and made me think about the couples I work with. 

In one of the interviews, Sarah summarized Adnan's words, that he was afraid to show compassion for fear it wouldn’t be believed. 

I thought of the folks that I work with who really do want to show compassion and empathy but are afraid that if they do, it will be rejected and discarded. 

How intense is that? 

Fear that I come close to you to soothe you, and you will reject me.  It's been weighing on my mind and my heart these last few days since hearing it and it’s made me realize two things.

One, how truly vulnerable it is to show compassion.  I think the vulnerability of showing it often gets lost.  We spend so much time recognizing how vulnerable it is to accept compassion but not as much time on the rawness of showing it. 

Because when I'm compassionate, I'm reaching for you and in that reach I'm also opening myself up for your rejection and your judgment.  If my compassion is pure and you don't see it as such, you could criticize me or tell me I'm doing it wrong and then I want to pull away and protect.

So powerful.  And so raw.

The second thing this statement made me think of is, if I show compassion, will you trust in it?

Will you believe in it?

Or will it push you away because it's also asking you to open up and be vulnerable too? 

Because the thing is, we can't accept compassion if we are closed off.  We can't accept someone reaching to comfort us if we are rejecting and dismissive of them.  It’s not only the need to show compassion that comes up, it's also the courage I have to embrace in order to trust that the compassion I show will be met with acceptance.

Have you ever struggled with the fear to show compassion? 

Do you worry that showing compassion to your mate will be rejected? Has your compassion ever been disbelieved?  What has it been like when you’ve received compassion in your relationship?

All that from a line in a podcast I know.  But that's the way my mind works.  It's always dissecting just how hard it is to work on our relationships.  And that although the results are beyond rewarding, the process can be messy.  There are so many sides to each partner's experience that they only way to really understand it, to really get it……is to slow it down and breathe.

I would love to continue this conversation because the ability to give and accept compassion are crucial elements to success in love.  And there is no better time than now to work on the relationship you're in.  Because if it feels like you keep getting stuck or the compassion you're showing isn't being trusted, now is the right time to start couples counseling.

As always, I want to hear from you!  I want to know what your journey through connection and love is like. 

Send me an email,  annaosbornmft@gmail.c om, give me a call at my Sacramento therapy office at 916.955.3200 or comment below. 

I can’t wait to hear from you.

Yours,

A

PS. If you haven't checked out Serial Podcast yet, beware, you will get sucked in! 

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